14 June 2024

The cost of living crisis won't last. Hang on!

The first time Hanno and I walked onto the land I still live on, in 1994, I was underwhelmed to say the least. Everything was dry, there was a small brick house sitting in the middle of a very large block of land but no fences, verandahs, tanks, solar panels, gardens, pathways or a driveway. The house looked lost and lonely but when I walked into the backyard, it was all there waiting for us. I could see remnant rainforest snaking along as if it was growing on a waterway. Sure enough, there was a flowing creek - it runs from Maleny to Pumicestone Passage in the Pacific Ocean - surrounded on both sides by old rainforest trees and vines.  I loved it and although I really didn't like the house, I knew we could change that but we'd never find land like this again. We bought the house soon after and moved here in 1997 when Shane finished school. Hanno and I were both working then.

I still have no driveway but all the other things we thought would be essential to our way of life we added later as we had the cash to buy them. We had a Solarhart solar hot water installed, along with our first water tank and two skylights and we put in a vegetable and fruit garden and bought another flock of hensHanno built a chook house, all made with recycled materials on a cement slab. We gutted the kitchen and got a cabinetmaker in to rebuild a kitchen I could work in and in 2000 we added another bedroom and bathroom. About ten years after we arrived we added a larger water tank, giving us the ability to store 15,000 litres/quarts of rainwater. In 2011 our first solar panels were installed - seven panels that saved us a lot of money. In 2023 I had the old panels removed and 18 panels added to the roof; they still save me money.  It's been slow and steady progress and all paid for when we had the cash ready. Doing that gave us a lifestyle that didn't rely on credit cards or loans.

And every year the land we lived on became more productive and beautiful.

If you grow some of the food you eat you'll save money, even if it's just the green leaves (lettuce, spinach, bok choy etc) or herbs.  All those plants will grow well in containers.

We paid our mortgage off in eight years, mainly by paying fortnightly instead of monthly and putting every extra cent we had on the mortgage. That might have been savings from our a lower than expected utilities bill or not spending what we expected to at the supermarket. I built a stockpile cupboard so I always had ingredients for every meal, I baked our bread - making a tasty and nutritious loaf for $2.50 instead of the $5.00 at the bakery. EVERY saving went to the mortgage. There is no doubt about it, it was tough but on the final day, when we paid that last payment, I was joyous and thankful that we'd pushed through the difficult times and done it. Living without a mortgage gives you a real sense of freedom and independence.

Afternoon light in the kitchen.

I'm well aware that many of you might be struggling with rent or paying off your mortgage at the moment, we all know the cost of living is frightening. There have been times in the past when we could have looked to our politicians for hope and help but I think those times have changed. Just this morning I read our opposition leader flew on a $23,000 private jet flight to speak to people in Tamworth about the cost of living! Good grief, how can anyone think that's okay?

I wash Gracie's blankets every week and she often sits there for a while watching them. But not the day I took this photo. I tried to get her to sit there but she wouldn't have anything to do with it.  Grrr.

I don't have any fancy answers to the cost of living crisis but I do know that it won't last. Over the years I've been through many financial crises and every one of them ended. There will be a time in the future when you'll look back on this and remember how you soldiered on and I hope you'll be proud that you did.  Remember that all the small steps add up - in paying off debt, saving for what you need and changing your life to something different. Everything takes time.

Take care of yourself, enjoy every day and take it easy.

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